The Meditation Mantra of the Month is “Aparigraha”. It’s the practice of non-grasping, non-possessiveness, or non-clinging; a loose grip.
- You might think right away about that box of old letters, mixed-tapes, sweatshirts, or diaries you have stashed away. Maybe you are holding on to those things because they are really important memories that you like to look back through occasionally or show them to your family. Or maybe because there is a kind of complicated idea that it proves that it all really happened…the break ups, the perfect days, the disappointments, the whole of it really existed at one time & all this stuff proves it.
- You might think about a change in your personal identity that you are resisting or are seeking. Maybe relationship status? Work? Friendship? Family roles?
- Or, if you are like me today, the notion of practicing a loose grip knocks on my tendency to hold on to a bad mood or an opinion like it is strapped on to my person with velcro and tight seat-belts.
Having a loose-grip on our stuff, our identity, and our thoughts is a practice that is strangely hard. If I loosen my grip on my side of the story in an argument is that giving in? Am I just rolling over and playing dead if I don’t hold strong to my beliefs? If I let go of those clothes that haven’t fit for years am I giving up on my weight loss goals? But I loved who I was when I fit in those jeans and I want to feel like that again! If I change my sense of drive at work will I ever get promoted or get tenure or make enough money to retire? If I loosened my grip on my goals will I be able to keep going?
I just re-read a quote from Karen Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life;
When we cling to our certainties, likes, and dislikes, deeming them essential our sense of self, we alienate ourselves from great transformation, because the reality is that we are all in continual flux, moving from one state to another.
It might be worth practicing aparigraha for a few weeks. Just trying it out. I’m not saying throw everything out and let go of all opinions. But,there are probably some really great jeans out there that fit me really well, if I am willing to admit that maybe the current ones just don’t fit right anymore. Maybe the jeans that you drop off at the consignment store, because you don’t like them anymore, are just what I need. Mine are so outdated and well used (because I’ve been wearing them far past their expiration date) they might best be recycled and turned into a fleece blanket or something. Which is also probably what could happen to some of the stories that I’m holding onto because I like to feel “right” or just to remind the universe of over and over again. Maybe I could loosen my grip on those stories and they will change into something else unexpected. This feels like losing control. Losing control of the story. For better or worse, I think it’s the opposite. Right? In the yogic wisdom of the 1981 hit song of .38 Special
Hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly you’re gonna lose control. .38 Special
So, here is the Meditation Practice that I’m going to recommend for your meditating pleasure. 🙂
- Find yourself a seat, by yourself. If that has to be the toilet, you are not alone. Well, hopefully you are alone, but know that there are plenty of other fine & honorable people who have quality alone time on the toilet, myself included.
- Choose a two or three word phrase about the practice of Aparigraha that you can use as a mantra to stay present.
- Find something that you can easily hold in your hand, that is smaller than your fist…like a rock, an apple, a small candle – Not Your Phone-, that you can use as a tactile reminder to stay present.
- set the timer on your phone for 3 minutes and put it out of reach.
- take a big inhale/exhale through your nose – if it is useful for you setting your mind next to a stream and letting your thoughts float by, trusting that when you need that thought again it will come back. 🙂
- Do 3 minutes of “silence” repeating the mantra to yourself, while holding the object in your hand.
- Then do 3 minutes of “silence” repeating the mantra to yourself, but set the object down & out of reach.
- The 1st round of 3/3 minutes bring your “stuff” or physical possessions to the surface of your mind.
- The 2nd round of 3/3 minutes bring a thought or opinion that that are stuck in to the surface of your mind
- The 3rd round of 3/3 minutes bring a relationship to the surface of your mind
You can go on and on and on and on… Notice what comes up for you when you are holding something and when you set it down. Neither is right or wrong – I don’t even know what you are thinking about. You do. Just see what happens.
Alright folks. Let me know if anything interesting or unexpected happens….like the emotional equivalent of your toothbrush being transformed into a picnic table. That would be interesting.
Peace on your head, you.